In my lifetime, I’ve walked many dogs. I had my own dog growing up, used to volunteer at the Animal Haven in Soho, and would occasionally dog sit for my friends. I know that feeling of clipping on the leash and seeing your dogs tail go crazy in excitement. But so many of us, especially in New York, need help with our dogs. We can’t be home for every time the dogs needs to go out and do his business. What’s more, folks want to make sure their dogs can stretch their legs and get some good exercise. So – we hire dog walkers.
Lots of folks look at dog walking as the perfect job. It’s straight forward, the pay can be good and the obvious – you get to be around dogs all day. But after living the life of a full time dog walker for just one day, I’m here to tell you that it’s NOT EASY. It’s not easy being a dog walker for a number of reasons.
- There’s a lot to remember. It’s not as simple as “Walk a dog.” Keys, pass-codes, which elevator to take, dog personalities, which dog gets what feeding at what time, paperwork – there’s a lot going on. I get tense just thinking about it. After my first day, just being able to keep track of my own schedule and make sure I wasn’t forgetting the important details for every dog was starting to melt my brain. I’m sure it gets easier over time and the more regular your schedule becomes, the better, but still – getting every little detail right takes a thoughtful person.
- Time off doesn’t come easy. In sickness and in health, in blizzard and in heat – the show must go on. The dog must be walked. Paying clients expect their dog walkers to show up in all sorts of conditions. That’s why they pay them. Of course good clients don’t abuse their walkers, but there’s still a responsibility that each walker has to their client to always be there. Besides trust, reliability is one of the more important traits of a good dog walker. If your’e a walker, you can’t just call in sick whenever you want without making an effort to give your client other options. You can’t make the dog NOT need to go potty. That’s a crime against nature!
- The stakes are high. Especially in neighborhoods with a lot of dogs, dog walking can be a competitive business. So if you mess up or fail to meet your clients expectations of being on time, sending updates and doing honest work – dog owners can easily take their business elsewhere. And if your reputation goes bust, it might be hard to win that back. Who knows how much bad ratings will affect your ability to get more clients.
After a full day of dog walking, I gotta say – I myself am DOG tired. My feet are sore, and I’m already a seasoned New York pedestrian! Still, I’m thrilled that I’m getting to do something I love and the dogs that I walked today are SO great. SO GREAT. I’m writing this just to make sure more people realize that being a dog walker is tough work. It’s a real job that take a good person that’s trustworthy, can think on their feet and knows how to be responsible for a living, breathing thing.
So the next time you see your dog walker, say to them, “Thanks for taking such good care of my dog. My dog and I are thankful that you’re around.”
Thanks for reading!